MJ Rodriguez, one of the stars of FX’s hit series Pose, is breaking into the music industry with her newly released single, “Something To Say.”
The New Jersey native is known professionally as MJ, but the name on her latest track suggests she is tapping into a different persona.
“Mj Rodriguez, in the very beginning when I was starting out in my acting career, I was like, ‘This is the person that is the prestigious, classy, well put together actress,’ versus Michaela Jaé, she is the diva, she is the shark, the songstress,” the 30-year-old told People. “That's the true me; that's the person that's inside of Mj, is Michaela Jaé, so I wanted people to really get a glimpse of who I am aside from the actress that they see on the television screen.”
In the music video, the actress serves up nostalgic summertime boo-loving vibes. In her catchy lyrics, she encourages listeners to speak up for themselves and use their voices.
"I got something to say. Speak up, stand up, wake up," the singer sings in her new song.
Rodriguez shared that the inspiration for her song was rooted in inclusivity and for transgender artists who don’t have as many role models as she did growing up.
“There's not a lot of trans women who are in the music industry,” she said. “I don't, unfortunately, have that right now, but I do see a lot of my sisters who are in my age bracket who are part of the next generation, which I'm living for, like Kim Petras [a transgender artist from Germany]. The girls are showing up. That's my inspiration. If I had any kind of mentorship, it would be my sisters out here really pushing and making it happen for all of us."
The Pose star noted that when filming the music video, she wanted everyone to feel included, regardless of how they identify themselves.
“We wanted also to let people know, within the song, that no matter the color of your skin, no matter the orientation, no matter the sexuality, no matter how you navigate through the world, we can really bring people together if we use our voices as one,” she said. “Why not do it through joy? Why not do it through happiness? Why not do it through empowerment and liberation? That was the main goal of the song. I want to make you smile all the time, so if I did that, I'm happy.”
As Blavity previously reported, Rodriguez made history this summer after becoming the first transgender actress nominated for an Emmy in a major acting category.
Though her acting career is seemingly taking off, Rodriguez also acknowledged her singing roots and the musical influences who have helped shape her.
“My mom and my uncle were the main music heads in my life,” the singer said.
“They played music all the time around me, from Chaka Khan to Luther Vandross to Phyllis Hyman to Gladys Knight — just a slew of R&B artists that I was into on the regular. When I was 5, I got totally hooked on Michael Jackson. I'm still hooked on him to this day, but I was so, so enthralled in not only his philanthropy but the way he worked on his music and how musically inclined he was and how he lived in the music on the stage when he was performing,” she added.
The Emmy-nominated actress also revealed that aside from acting lessons, she was also vocally trained in R&B and classical music beginning at age 11. When she was 18, she was accepted into Berklee College of Music and was awarded a scholarship.
“I studied there [Berklee] only for a little bit because an amazing opportunity came. But my time that I was there, I learned a lot,” Rodriguez shared. “I majored in songwriting, but I minored in performance. I learned a lot about the music business, knowing the ins and outs of the industry. I was in my element from 19 all the way until 20 years old, then I went on to pursue my career as an artist.”